Broncos' Brock Osweiler eager to prove his stint in 'football rehab' was successful


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Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph has informed his team that Brock Osweiler will take over the starting quarterback duties over Trevor Siemian, the team announced on Wednesday.
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Brock Osweiler re-signed with the Denver Broncos in September, following his release from the Cleveland Browns, he was in search of what Broncos general manager John Elway called “football rehab.”

“I guess I’m checking out,” Osweiler said Wednesday, laughing.

This is no joke.

Osweiler is — once again — the starting quarterback, and he’s taking over a team in a tailspin.

Head coach Vance Joseph called Osweiler and Trevor Siemian, who started the first seven games, into his office Tuesday night to inform them that Osweiler will start Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL-best 7-1 record. Siemian’s struggles over the past three weeks — he turned the ball over seven times during Denver’s losing streak — became unbearable for Joseph, who’s repeatedly said since Monday night’s defeat in Kansas City that the mistakes were unfair to a team that was otherwise playing well in other areas.

“In fairness to the players and the staff, it was time to make a change so we could figure out how to stabilize the offense and get into a fair game, so we can win some of these games,” Joseph said. “We’ve outgained our opponents in the four (total) losses. Our numbers and stats from Monday night, it’s silly. We won the yardage, we won third downs, we won in the red zone. We lost one battle, and that’s turnovers. It’s all about managing the game better and picking our moments better to make big plays, rather than making things bad to worse.”

The message to Osweiler is clear: Manage the offense, limit negative plays, and let the running game and defense carry the load.

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“I’ve been given this opportunity and I’m being told, ‘Protect the football,’ ” he said.

Around the training facility Wednesday, Broncos coaches and teammates tried to talk up Osweiler, referencing his 5-2 record for the 2015 Super Bowl team when Peyton Manning was injured. They brought up Osweiler’s big wins, from his first start on a frigid day in Chicago, to an overtime win in the snow against New England, as proof that he can handle the job.

No one mentioned an ugly home loss to Oakland, when Osweiler was sacked five times, or his two first-half interceptions in the 2015 regular-season finale, a performance that sent him back to the bench as Manning reclaimed the reins.

Osweiler was a huge disappointment last year after signing with the Houston Texans, who jettisoned him after one 15-touchdown, 16-interception campaign.

But the Broncos are still hoping now, with another chance, he’ll become an effective game manager.

Osweiler admitted Wednesday that he found himself trying to “do too much” in Houston. He had a massive contract (4 years, $72 million) and was, for the first time in his NFL career, the man. But he feuded with Texans coach Bill O’Brien and never established a rapport with No. receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

“Sometimes, when you’re in the heat of the moment and things aren’t going well, you’re just trying to make a play. And then you make a bad play worse, and then it just compounds and, before you know it, you can’t slow it down,” Osweiler said.

“I’ve been very fortunate that for seven games to be able to sit on the sideline, learn this offense through mental reps and just observe and think about how I would do things different if I was given the opportunity again. That’s sort of what my rehab has been, and now we’re going to put it to the test.”

Joseph is not committing to Osweiler beyond Sunday but admitted, if he plays well, it would be a “simple” decision to leave him in the lineup. Barring that, Joseph could turn back to Siemian at some point or even play Paxton Lynch, last year’s first-round pick, once his right shoulder fully heals from a preseason injury.

“(Siemian)’s career is not over by this. Lots of young quarterbacks have to take a step back and watch the game and figure out how to play the game better,” Joseph said. “All the best quarterbacks are game managers. That’s a negative term in football, but it shouldn’t be. To be a quarterback, you have to manage the football game.”

Siemian is disappointed by his play and his demotion but pledged to be supportive of Osweiler while using this time to “take a breather and re-evaluate.”

“I have an expectation for myself and I haven’t lived up to it,” Siemian said.

On the other side of football rehab, that’s a feeling Osweiler can understand.

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Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones

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